RHODES



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Rhodes - The northwest of the island and Kameiros - Ancient Kameiros

At 35km, a turning in from the shore leads up through olives and pines, to the tranquil and beautiful site of -Ancient Kameiros or Camirus (open Apr–Oct 8–7.30; Nov– Mar 8.30–2.30; closed Mon). General In complete contrast to Ialysos, the site here is a clear and comprehensible unity, undisturbed by overbuilding in later epochs and remarkably well preserved by the in-filling dust (which Homer accurately describes as arginoeis (‘chalky in colour’), Iliad, II, 656). Few other places in the Greek Islands give a more complete and un-fragmented picture of the layout of a small ancient centre than Kameiros. Every part of the site is visible from every other, and the simple and integral relationships between the areas can be easily understood: the civic and commercial area at the level of the entrance; the most important religious and administrative buildings at the crown of the hill; and the residential area—not banished to a suburb, but laid out between the two, in such a way as to give a sense of security to the inhabitants. One of the most interesting features of Kameiros is the city’s system of stor age and distribution of water, effected by a network of large underground conduits. The visitor today must imagine the sound of running and splashing water at many points throughout the ancient town. Named after one of the grandsons of the nymph Rhode and Helios (Pindar, Olympian VII, 69–76), Kameiros was the smallest of the three original, Dorian settlements on the island. Its economy was primarily agricultural, and the need to store and transport its surplus produce of oil and wine was the stimulus for a vigorous, local ceramic industry. It possessed a shallow and rather exposed harbour—Mylantia—on the coast below: but it may also have used the more protected port, 13km further south along the coast at modern-day Kameiros Skala. This in convenient state of affairs may have contributed to its willingness to participate in the creation of the new city of Rhodes in 407/8 bc, with its superb ports and commanding position for trade. Kameiros was devastated by an earthquake in 226 bc: this means that much of what is standing above ground dates from the rebuilding which followed that disaster. The site Lower area The visitor enters the site at the level of the commercial and civic centre, or agora, of the city—a flat, open area artificially levelled, with a retaining wall below to the left, at the seaward extremity of the present enclosure. This space was bounded by a number of sacred buildings and by the fountain complex and public meeting-space to the south east side, against the central slope of the hill. To the right on entering is a di-style temple, oriented north/south, with two columns re-erected, probably dedicated to Pythian Apollo. Several different coloured materials have been used in its base to pleasing effect: a yellow threshold step on the front (south) side and a course of local marble at the lowest level of the base; originally this would have provided greater con trast since the upper areas of sandstone would have been rendered in white plaster. Inside, the base for the cult statue is visible, with a sunken treasury for offerings behind and two bases for votive objects to either side of the entrance of the naos. By the southwest corner of the temple is a large 3rd century bc shrine with a statue base in its interior. Further to the west, at the edge of the excavated area, are the remains of a house of the Roman period with an interior room with apse (possibly a small nymphaeum) still preserving some bright, coloured plaster. The Fountain Square is the open rectangular area to your right: spacious and partially shaded, this would have been the busy social hub of the city. It is surrounded by the bases for votive statues in Lardos marble, many of them with beautifully clear inscriptions. A number have been moved by the archaeologists and lined up along the eastern edge of the area. On the north (seaward) side are two curiosities— densely inscribed stones of grey marble sculpted in a plastic and amorphous manner as if to simulate gnarled wood. The forms are too incomplete and the inscriptions too eroded to permit any certain identification of what these unusual items signified. The fountain-house proper lies to the south, with a row of erected columns in front (often inscribed on their sides) with incisions to hold in place cross-pieces from floor to waist level: some of these would have been of marble, but others of wood so as to permit entrance. A large trapezoid shaped area of cisterns lay below the high, dressed-stone wall to the south behind: steps are cut descending this wall from top right. The water was contained by another wall directly behind the fountain courtyard or peristyle, with axial steps leading up to it from the colonnade and from the open square. This layout is seen most clearly from above. Note that the high, stone retaining walls mentioned above, as well as those along the east side of the area, have been largely re constructed by the Italian archaeologists in the 1930s. Leaving this area to the north (towards the sea), you pass through what was once a long enclosure wall with engaged columns. Beside it at a lower level are visible the bases of much earlier walls of the 5th century bc in ‘poros’ limestone. At an angle, to the right, is an exedra with an altar or statue base centrally placed in front: this was probably another, elegant votive dedication. Behind this is a terraced area referred to as the ‘sanctuary of the gods’, containing parallel rows of altars to the various divinities whose names are inscribed on the front: ‘Hestia’ (goddess of the hearth and home), ‘Agathos Daimon’ (good fortune), etc. The long altar on the lower level was dedicated to Helios. Directly behind this sanctuary, in the northeast corner of the site, is the later bath complex with evidence of hypocaust and plastered walls for impermeability. From here the fine spectacle of the stepped main street opens out, rising uphill to the south with houses and shops to the left. Middle area The large residential area—still only partially excavated—is a pleasure to explore. The houses, as was typical of the Hellenistic period, were constructed around an open peristyle with a single, central entrance onto the street: the columns supporting the roof of the peristyle have been re-erected by the archaeologists in a couple of instances. The rooms off of the courtyards were small and the spaces between houses narrow. The walls would have been mostly plastered except at the external corners which are pleasingly finished in dressed stone-work: these corners were left un-plastered since they were more subject to knocks and damage. Some houses may have had wooden balconies. In all, the appear ance might not have been that dissimilar from the old quarter of, say, Lindos today. A walk amongst the houses reveals stone water-jars and braziers in volcanic rock from Nisyros; fountain-bases in the centre of courtyard impluvia, paved with inlaid stones; niches for statues of divinities; cisterns, well-heads and small mill-stones for grinding. Everywhere underfoot are broken ceramic tiles (thick) and pots (thin)— even some red-glaze ware: stretches of stone water-conduits (Greek) and clay-piping (Roman) at ground level, are witness to the extensive water distribution system. Just before the steps begin, an iron grill covers the main street’s drain which, though modified by the excavators, still possesses its original channel. Upper area At the top of the street the broad acropolis area opens out. To the left is a small rectangular shrine, standing apart and slightly off the axis of all the other buildings, though precisely oriented east/west. The first thing to locate at this level is the oldest element—a huge -Archaic cistern (6th century bc), carefully plastered and with two well-preserved flights of steps leading down into it. The capacity of this impressive construction is about 600 cubic metres of water. The duct leading water into it can be seen at the top of the eastern end of the south wall; the stone discs on the floor that look like column bases cover the exit holes, and could be moved in order to regulate the flow. The rim of the cistern is beautifully finished. It is generally supposed that this collected water from the roofs of the acropolis buildings; but its size, together with the extent of the network of conduits below, would point to there having formerly been some other and more constant source of water, which has now dried. It will be observed that the cistern is bisected by a foundation wall in yellow sandstone, constructed much later in Hellenistic times. This is because, after the earthquake of 226 bc, a Hellenistic stoa of remarkable dimensions (over 200m in length) was constructed to crown the whole width of the summit of the town. Such a stoa would consist of a colonnade in front, a wall of shop or office entrances set back under the colonnade, and a rear supporting wall. The front colonnade of this stoa was built up on the wall which bisects the cistern, and which extends further to east and west; the middle wall (i.e. the front wall of the shops/offices) runs just behind the cistern; and the base of the rear wall is visible below the line of trees behind, divided into room units. The floor of each one of these units is punctuated by a circular well-head or cistern cap. This row of large cisterns was what replaced the (by then) de-commissioned Archaic cistern. The coolness of this shady building with its wide north-facing panorama over the city and the surrounding islands must have made it an enviable place to gather, to do business, or simply to be cool and admire the view. The view in the opposite direction, to the south, is also magnificent; this would have been enjoyed by the sanctuary of the other great building which occupied this summit, the Temple of Athena Kameiras. The visible remains here of a base and enclosure wall are from the last temple on the site, built after 226 bc to replace the earlier, classical Doric temple that had been shaken down. The vestigial remains of an altar and bothros (sacred pit) are visible beyond the east end, near to the south edge of the hill. Much of the site is still to be uncovered. No theatre has yet been located, nor any substantial fortification walls. Cemeteries have been extensively explored on the lateral slopes, and the magnificent finds which they have yielded are in the Museum in Rhodes . Approximately 70m below the entrance to the site as you return towards the main coast road, a track to the right permits a good view of the lower wall-terracing and of an imposing exedra—possibly a nymphaeum.


Rhodes Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.


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access

Rhodes Island, Greece.

By air: With a total of 6–7 daily flights from Athens to Rhodes operated by both Olympic Air and Aegean Airways, Rhodes is easily accessible at all times of year. Its airport is also the hub for local flights within the area to Kastellorizo, Karpathos and Kasos (almost daily), and to Kos, Leros and Astypalaia (three times weekly). There are also daily connections direct to Thessaloniki and to Heraklion (Crete). The airport is 15km southwest of the centre of Rhodes town (€15 by taxi).
By boat: The port of Rhodes is also the principal hub for the Dodecanese Islands, with daily connections to all the principal islands, though the frequency of connections to the lesser islands varies considerably according to season (see entries for individual islands). There are year-round, direct connections by car-ferry to Piraeus (c. 16 hours) every day; and connections to eastern Crete twice weekly. In the holiday season, there are also daily connections (by private carriers) to Marmaris in Turkey. Since the port is large and has several harbours, it is important to ascertain from which part of it a ferry will leave.
The neighbouring island of Chalki is served twice weekly from Rhodes town, but there is a daily service from Kameiros Skala (2 hours). The GNTO office in the New Town (corner of Makariou and Papagou Streets, T. 22410 44335) provides helpful sheets with weekly boat departures, museum opening times, a price-list for taxis and schedules of bus times and fares for the whole island. Its web-site is: www.ando.gr/eot

Rhodes Travel Guide

eating

Rhodes Island, Greece.

Rhodes offers some of the best and most varied eating possibilities in the Aegean— although in the city itself, the visitor will need to explore outside the Old Town to sample the best Greek food. Within the walls of the Old Town, unimaginative and often overpriced tourist-fare prevails; we would suggest only: the -Marco Polo (see lodging, above); Dinoris Restaurant (upper medium price) in a tiny alley across from the entrance to the Archaeological Museum— an elegant and traditional taverna of long standing, one of the few in the Old Town regularly frequented by locals; Photis Restaurant (expensive; open all year) in Menekléous Street—also an elegant and well-established fish restaurant, where the undoubted high quality and presentation of its dishes compensates for the hauteur of the reception and service. At lunchtime, -Indigo (medium price), inside the Nea Agorá market building (at no.105/6) beside Mandraki harbour, offers delicious, finely prepared dishes from the cuisine of Greek Asia Minor. Further afield (but without question worth the short taxi-ride) in Zephyros, southeast of the city centre, is the -Paragadi fish restaurant (medium expensive; corner of Klaude Pepper & Australias Streets: reservation recommended, T. 22410 37775) with an exceptional quality of service and of seafood and fish dishes, prepared in the best and simplest manner. This is one of the best fish restaurants in the Dodecanese. Nearby, open all year, and usually packed with locals, is To Steki tou Cheila (inexpensive) at the southern end of Kodringtonou St., on the corner of Hadjiangelou and Dendrinou Sts: the symiakó (tiny shrimps) and the wine are both fresh and delicious.
Around the island: Mavrikos in Lindos (expensive; reservations, T. 22440 31232) is a fine and justly famous restaurant with pleasing setting, serving many homemade products. The excellent and panoramic -To Limeri tou Listí ("The robber"s den") in Prophilía (T. 22440 61578) in the central south of the island, certainly merits the long journey and represents one of the best places to eat on the island: it has imaginatively and care fully prepared traditional dishes of the highest standard, e.g. a light and unforgettable imam bayaldı. Nearby, Petrino in the picturesque plateia of Váti, is a good country taverna with fresh and unaffected cuisine.

Rhodes Travel Guide

further reading

Rhodes Island, Greece.

Cecil Torr, Rhodes in Ancient Times and Rhodes in Modern Times (first published by CUP in 1885, both now re-issued by Archaeopress ‘3rd guides’, Oxford); Lawrence Durrell, Reflections on a Marine Venus (Faber & Faber, London, 1953); H.J.A Sire, The Knights of Malta (Yale, London & New Haven, 1994); Vassilis Colonas, Italian Architecture in the Dodecanese Islands, 1912–1943 (Olkos Press, Athens, 2002); Elias Kollias, The Mediaeval City of Rhodes etc.,(Ministry of Culture, Athens, 1998).

Rhodes Travel Guide

lodging

Rhodes Island, Greece.

The most beautiful and characterful place to stay in the Old Town of Rhodes is the -Hotel Marco Polo (T./fax 22410 25562, www. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; open May–late Oct) at 42 Aghiou Phanaríou Street, not far from where it joins (the main) Sokrátous Street at the Mehmet Agha Mosque. With architecturally fine rooms of great individuality, and the thoughtful and friendly service that goes with private ownership, this is a memorable place either to stay or just to dine on its imaginative, traditional food in the peace and quiet of a mediaeval walled-garden. Elegant, modern luxury at a higher price, in an enviable location just off the Street of the Knights, is offered by the newly opened -Avalon Boutique Hotel (T./ fax 22410 31438/31439, www.avalonRhodes .gr), which is open all year round. The Old Town also has many small and characterful pensions: worthy of mention are, The Apollo Guesthouse (T. 22410 32003, www.apollo-touristhouse.com) and Hotel Andreas (T. 22410 34156, fax 74285, www.hotelandreas.com), at 28c and 28d Omírou Street respec tively (contiguous, but under separate management) not far from the St John/Koski nou Gate, and overlooking the ancient church of Aghia Kyriaki. Both are relatively inexpensive, and inhabit interesting buildings; the rooms are comfortable, but small. At Ippodámou Street, 61, is the delightful S. Nikolis Hotel (T. 22410 34561, fax 32034, www.s-nikolis.gr). These last three close between late October and the week before Easter. In the winter season, the New Town has a number of hotels which are open year-round and offer more conventional services and convenience. Comfort able and satisfactory, without being too big or expensive, is the A-class Hotel Mediterranean (T. 22410 24661, fax 22828, www.mediterranean. gr), opposite the Casino at 35 Kos Street; most rooms have good sea-views. Exceptional value year-round is represented by the Esperia Hotel (T. 22410 23941–4) at 7 Griva Street which is warm, pleasant and strictly functional: the pool-side rooms are quietest.

Rhodes Travel Guide

practical info

Rhodes Island, Greece.

851 00-09 Rhodes : area 1,401sq. km; perimeter 220km; resident population 115,334; max. altitude 1,216m. Port Authority: 22410 22220, 28888, 28666. Travel and information: www.travel-Rhodes .com

Rhodes Travel Guide

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